30 things that might be obsolete by 2020

Flickr/fPatA pay phone.
  • Devices that have only one use like calculators, alarm clocks, and digital cameras are being replaced by smartphones.
  • Phone chargers and headphones with cords are also fading out in favour of wireless models.
  • Paper is going digital, from magazines to maps to regular paperwork.

Technology develops at a staggeringly quick pace in today’s world – even watching movies from a few years ago can provide opportunities to snicker at characters’ outdated cell phones.

We’re not sure what wildly innovative ideas the future will bring, but we have a pretty good sense of which devices will fall into disuse.

Here are 30 things that will probably be obsolete by 2020.

Print magazines


Teen Vogue and Nylon are the latest magazines to discontinue their print editions and run exclusively online. We have a feeling more magazines will follow suit.

And newspapers

Print newspapers will likely meet the same fate as magazines.

Digital cameras

ShutterstockRelax in the Alps while taking the occasional photo

Now that phone cameras can shoot pictures and video in HD (there are even iPhone photography awards), clunky digital cameras will fade out of style.

Hard drives

Boibin/ShutterstockHard drives.

Soon, everyone will keep their information in “the cloud” and there will be no need for physical storage devices.

Thumb drives

Geolilli/ShutterstockA thumb drive.

Thumb drives may be a convenient way to carry data around in your pocket, but thanks to cloud computing you won’t have to carry anything at all.

Paper maps

With step-by-step directions on Google Maps, paper maps are hardly necessary anymore.

Standalone GPS devices

Lucky Business/ShutterstockA car GPS.

Same goes for GPS devices. Your phone can perform all the same functions, plus text someone that you’ve arrived.


With Google Docs and digital signatures becoming the norm, contracts, medical forms, and other documents will cease to exist in paper form.

Fax machines

Karl Baron/FlickrA fax machine.

Let’s face it – fax machines should have disappeared long ago. Once paperwork goes, these dinosaurs are going, too.


Wikimedia CommonsThis monster lived in the trunk of your car.

People rarely buy music anymore, much less in any physical form. Streaming services are the way of the future.

DVD and Blu-ray players

Brian Senic/ShutterstockA DVD player.

Movie streaming services like Netflix are turning DVD and Blu-ray players into dust-collecting devices.

Getting bills in the mail


Getting bills in the mail is already becoming a thing of the past with online payment methods and apps. Soon, you’ll be able to pay all of your bills through a few clicks on a computer or taps on your phone.


Atstock Productions/ShutterstockA calculator.

Most phones have a calculator built in, reducing the need for this clunky device that only does one job.

Alarm clocks

coyot / PixabayAn alarm clock.

Most phones have an alarm clock, stopwatch, and timer built in, too.

Analogue watches

Nadya Kubik/ShutterstockA watch.

Smart watches may not be ready to overtake smartphones yet, but it’s looking like they’re going to replace analogue watches.


2016 was the first year that a majority of American homes did not have a landline, according to the Center for Disease Control, and more than 70% of all adults aged 25-34 were living in wireless-only households. Home phone numbers are on their way out.

Pay phones

2p2play/ShutterstockA pay phone.

AT&T announced that it was leaving the pay phone market back in 2007. Everyone has cell phones these days anyhow.

Buttons on phones

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderAn iPhone 8.

The iPhone X, released on November 3, 2017, was the first iPhone to ditch the home button, and some Android models have already gotten rid of them.

Reference books

Flickr/GreeblieA dictionary.

With the internet at our fingertips at all times, dictionaries and encyclopedias are no longer necessary.


Billion Photos/ShutterstockA checkbook.

With innovations like online banking and Apple Pay, writing out checks is already a chore. The future of finances is definitely digital.


AppleApple presents its new FaceID.

Apple debuted FaceID this year, while Microsoft’s Windows Hello facial recognition system has been in place since 2015. Forget letters, numbers, and special characters – biometric passwords will be the norm.

Remote controls

You won’t have to search for the remote or replace its batteries when voice commands and smartphone controls become widespread ways to operate your devices.

Headphones with cords

Megan Willett/INSIDERHeadphones.

From Apple’s AirPods to Bluetooth headphones, the headphone jack’s days are numbered.

Charger cables

PIMPAN/ShutterstockA phone charger.

Chargers are also going wireless with charging pads entering the scene.

Parking meters

Flickr / Steve SnodgrassA parking meter.

Parking meters are being turned into art since paying for parking can be done via app in most places.

Delivery workers

In 2016, the White House predicted that nearly 3.1 million drivers in the workforce could have their jobs automated. Already, Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service is bringing packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

Car keys


BMW already has an app that allows car owners to unlock their doors without using a key, and they announced in September that they’re considering completely replacing car keys with mobile phone apps.

Travel agencies

Tim Boyle/Getty ImagesA travel agent.

There were124,000 full-time travel agents in the US in 2000. In 2014, that number went down to 74,000.While a human touch definitely makes booking travel less of a headache, the convenience of the internet is narrowing the field.


ShutterStockA pile of textbooks.

Paper textbooks are expensive and heavy, not to mention they often become obsolete after a few years when new discoveries require updated editions. According to Scholastic, higher education has already begun to pivot to e-textbooks.

Paper receipts

CVS receipts are so long they have become a meme. But even they have begun offering digital receipts. Many vendors already send receipts via email, so it won’t be long until it’s the new standard.

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